In collectible Daniel Roth, those years where the man himself oversaw operations stand clearly distinguished from post-2000 Bulgari-acquisition watches. Many enthusiasts have preference for the very early years, where modified Lemania calibres powered much of the manufacture’s offerings. However, one or two grail-level pieces were also produced throughout the latter stages of Mr. Roth’s tenure of his own brand. Among them, this white gold Papillon which is not only extremely scarce, but the very last watch Mr. Roth oversaw personally.
In much the same way that Cartier’s CPCP Monopoussoir was architected by the then-uncredited FP Journe, Denis Flageollet, and Vianney Halter, Breguet’s Chaumet era was created by Mr. Roth. The Chaumet brothers took a gamble on this relatively young master watchmaker who had trained in the Vallée de Joux and worked for AP. It paid off and the 3237 chronograph Mr. Roth created marked a high point in Breguet history. Shortly after, in 1989, Roth created his own manufacture. Students of history will note that this date places him amongst the very first eponymous independents (think Dufour, Muller, Dubuis, Journe, and a few others in that time). However, Roth’s brand sold to Bulgari in 2000. Production carried on, but did not hold a candle to the ‘hands-on’ years. It is estimated that around 3000 pieces exist in total from this fully independent era (300-500 yearly). This reference hails from the very end of that era.
The Papillon was released in 1998 in celebration of the manufacture’s first decade of production. Roth took an active role in the design and finishing of the Papillon to mark the occasion. So named Papillon (French for butterfly) for its distinctively symmetric winged dial design, the model was Roth’s first to pair a jump hour with jump minutes. Of the Papillon’s entire production, only 110 pieces exist in this white gold, 110 in rose, and 30 in platinum.
In detail, the Papillon comes alive. Its dial incorporates two styles of hand-executed guilloché, polished rehaut and window, brushed tracks, and fluted surrounds. The artistry in finish does not require ink spilled, it is self-evident with attention. Roth’s signature 35x41mm ellipsocurvex remains, but underneath lies a Girard Perregaux 3000 ébauche finished by Roth with a solid gold rotor bearing the limited edition’s numbered series. Not only is the extreme symmetry very visually pleasing, but it feels right at home in this case design. Moreover, it forces one of this watch’s best attributes in my opinion. While most Daniel Roths bear his name at 12 quite subtly, the Papillon bears his name on the dials ‘wings’. It is by far the most prominent placement of the eponymous manufacture’s name, one which feels like a final signature by the man himself, a goodbye an era of exceptional fully independent watchmaking.
In two decades, this watch has see very little wear. There are superficial marks across its white gold case, but only upon close study. Everything else is simply perfect. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded independent-focussed retailer out of London.
Find this 10th Anniversary Papillon here from A Collected Man for 61500 GBP.